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Regulating your vehicle’s fuel pressure, especially in a performance application, is one of the keys to maximum horsepower. Too much fuel or too little fuel going to your vehicle’s carburetor or injectors is not good, so fuel pressure regulators play a huge role in making sure your vehicle is running in top form. Fuel pressure regulators enable the right amount of fuel to be delivered to your vehicle’s carburetor or fuel injectors. We have a wide selection of fuel pressure regulators listed on our website for any application you can think of, so finding the right one for your ride can be confusing, but we’re here to help you make the best choice.

What Is a Fuel Pressure Regulator and What Does It Do?

Most fuel pressure regulators use a spring and/or diaphragm to regulate fuel flow. Using a fuel pressure gauge as a guide, an adjustable fuel pressure regulator features a set screw or a dial to adjust the spring and/or diaphragm to adjust fuel pressure up or down. Much like an alternator’s voltage regulator, which regulates the voltage it puts out, fuel pressure regulators control the amount of fuel fed to your vehicle’s carburetor or fuel injectors. In a performance application, most aftermarket fuel pressure regulators are of the adjustable fuel pressure regulator variety. The primary reason a person installs a fuel pressure regulator kit is because of the adjustability. With an adjustable fuel pressure regulator, adjusting the set screw increases or decreases the amount of fuel being delivered.

What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Fuel Pressure Regulator?

It is a rare occurrence when a fuel pressure regulator becomes defective, but a few symptoms include poor engine performance, decreased fuel mileage, black smoke out of the tailpipe, misfires, fouled spark plugs, engine stalling, and the like. Overall poor performance could be a result of a bad fuel regulator. These issues are a result of the engine receiving too much or not enough fuel. If any of these issues occur, in essence, the fuel regulator has possibly stopped doing its job. All these issues can be caused by a defective fuel regulator. From the outside looking in, you may not be able to see that the fuel pressure regulator is bad, but these telltale signs could point in the fuel regulator’s general direction.

Do All Vehicles Have a Fuel Pressure Regulator?

If your vehicle features a combustion engine running any type of fuel, chances are good it has a fuel pressure regulator of some design. With a fuel injected vehicle, the EFI fuel pressure regulator is usually located on the fuel rail on the return side of the fuel system. With a carbureted system, the fuel pressure regulator could be located either before or after the carburetor. Most carbureted systems feature what is called a deadhead universal fuel pressure regulator between the fuel tank and the carburetor. Setting fuel pressure for carburetor applications is as simple as adjusting the fuel pressure regulator accordingly. 

A fuel pressure regulator with return capabilities is basically a fuel pressure regulator with bypass functionality. Meaning, after the fuel pressure regulator has done its job, the excess fuel is fed back to the fuel tank. The bypass fitting and hose allows that fuel to return to the tank. An EFI fuel pressure regulator, or fuel pump regulator, as it is sometimes called, features bypass capability as well. Using a fuel pressure regulator for carburetor with bypass capabilities is another way to adjust fuel pressure for carburetor applications.

Can A Vehicle Run Without a Fuel Pressure Regulator?

With carbureted combinations, yes, it is possible to run an engine without a fuel pressure regulator for carburetor. Since a typical four-barrel carburetor uses just 6-8 psi, fuel pressure for carburetor applications isn’t high enough to do any real damage. Plus, many engine mounted mechanical carbureted fuel pumps are designed to run at that psi. For an EFI combination, you most certainly want a fuel pressure regulator. An EFI combination runs at a much higher fuel pressure, so without any regulation, too much fuel pressure can and will damage injectors, O-rings, and hoses.

If using a power adder in your vehicle, you want to investigate boost referenced fuel pressure regulators. These boost referenced fuel pressure regulators recognize when your engine is under boost and compensates with the proper increase in fuel pressure. Boost referenced fuel pressure regulators work off a vacuum line to the regulator from the air intake to sense an increase in boost pressure. This type of fuel pressure regulator amps up the fuel pressure when under boost to keep detonation under control. On boosted or nitrous engines additional fuel volume is often needed to minimize the chance of detonation. No matter which fuel pump you choose, know that all electric fuel pumps will require a regulator, while most mechanical fuel pumps will not require a regulator.

If doing an engine swap, a fuel pressure regulator needs to be on your shopping list. When it comes to the ever-popular LS swap, an LS1 fuel injector line pressure regulator solution is something many have needed. We have several fuel pressure regulator LS1 applications in stock. These LS swap fuel filter/regulator combos present an easy to solve the LS1 fuel injector line pressure regulator issue when it comes to these swaps, as the regulator and filter are built as one unit, allowing for a short return line from the filter back to your fuel tank.

Is A Fuel Pressure Regulator the Same as A Fuel Pressure Sensor?

Yes and no. Some newer cars use a fuel pressure sensor instead of a fuel pressure regulator. Furthermore, a fuel pressure sensor can replace a fuel pressure gauge in some applications that use a computer controlled analog or digital instrument cluster. For the most part, though, a fuel pressure sensor simply monitors fuel pressure in returnless-style OEM fuel systems so that the PCM can control the fuel pressure by varying the fuel pump input voltage. As such, a fuel pressure sensor is something your typical classic truck, muscle car, or hot rod builder will not need to be concerned with.